It was a wild one at this time in Pittsburgh, but when the mud lastly settled Tennessee walked away with a 34-27 additional time win that noticed the Vols overcome numerous self-inflicted wounds.
Tennessee was a good distance from excellent at this time. A good distance. But they persevered via turnovers, missed alternatives and massive performs by the opponent to win a sport on the highway in opposition to a ranked group.
In quick, Heupel’s group confirmed some resilience, and as a lot as anything, that is why they’re flying again to Knoxville 2-0.
“For us to come back out right here and, not play excellent by any stretch of the creativeness, but compete…man, we talked about that each one week. I instructed them it was going to take 60 minutes. I did not know I used to be mendacity to them after I mentioned that. The potential to only reset and play, I’m pleased with that a part of it,” Josh Heupel mentioned after the win.
It’s not typically that you will win a sport when you will have a turnover on particular groups. Well, how about successful one the place you had two turnovers on particular groups?
Tennessee pulled that trick off at this time, overcoming a blocked punt and a muff on a return that Pittsburgh recovered.
The muff, by Trevon Flowers, occurred with 7:28 left within the sport and the Vols clinging to a 27-20 lead. Pitt took over on Tennessee’s 39 and 10 performs later scored a landing on 4th & objective from the fourth to tie the sport.
That rating gave Pitt some momentum, momentum that was enhanced when the Vols took over with 2:23 left to play but could not cross midfield with an opportunity to take the lead. As a results of that Pitt went into the additional time with some swagger, but Tennessee overcame it.
“It says that there is quite a lot of studying that should go on,” Josh Heupel mentioned of his group’s miscues within the second half that allowed Pitt to hold round and ultimately drive additional time. “The fumbles cannot occur, the blocked punt cannot occur. That’s on us as coaches and as gamers persevering with to get higher. We’ve acquired to make these strides right here actually shortly.
“At the identical time what I do love is that there is a sure stage of maturity that we definitely did not have final 12 months at occasions. Our youngsters are prepared to proceed to compete. They’ve dealt with the ups and downs within the circulation of the sport the best means. They proceed to only reset and play.”
The Vols confronted adversity all day and it began early.
Pittsburgh’s offense moved the ball up and down the sphere to start out the sport whereas Tennessee went three and out on its first two possessions whereas falling into a fast 10-0 gap.
The Panthers drove to the Vols’ 12 yard line on their first possession earlier than having to accept a area objective.
Their second drive consisted of 1 play, a 76 yard landing run from Israel Abanikanda.
The Vols’ ensuing drive fizzled out on the Pitt 39 when the offense could not convert 4th & 3 and Pitt took over in good area place with an opportunity to make it a 3 rating sport.
That drive reached the Tennessee 21 yard line earlier than Trevon Flowers made the largest play of his profession, intercepting a tipped move behind the tip zone. That play prevented Pitt from scoring on its first three drives and gave the Vols an opportunity to proper the ship and get their legs below them.
“Offensively early on we did not do something to get a drive began,” Heupel mentioned of the early going. “We were utterly out of rhythm. Defensively we weren’t ‘hole sound’ and we did not deal with properly.
“We acquired our toes beneath us a bit of bit after that play (Flowers’ interception). It stopped the momentum, stopped the bleeding and gave us an opportunity to get going within the different course. Big play.”
Hendon Hooker and the offense cashed in that chance, lastly placing one thing collectively on a ten play, 80 yard landing drive that minimize the deficit to 10-7 and stopped the bleeding for Tennessee.
That drive appeared to leap begin the Vols. Pitt would add yet another first half landing on its subsequent drive on a 57 yard catch and run from Gavin Bartholomew to make it 17-7, but the remainder of the primary half belonged to Tennessee.
The Vols would reply with 17 unanswered factors to take a 24-17 lead into the half. The final three factors got here on a area objective that Tyler Baron arrange with a strip sack that gave the Vols the ball on the Pitt 28 yard line.
There are going to be any variety of issues to deal with on the observe area after this one.
It was a troublesome day for the offensive line. The Vols managed simply 91 yards speeding on the day in 33 makes an attempt (2.6 ypc). Hooker was sacked 3 times and compelled from the pocket on quite a few events.
The protection closed the sport sturdy, but they additionally benefited from taking part in in opposition to Pitt’s second string quarterback when Kaden Slovis did not play within the second half. With Slovis within the sport Pitt racked up 286 yards of offense within the first half.
However, all that stuff is much more enjoyable to deal with after a win. And this was a win that Tennessee most likely did not get final 12 months. Learning to battle via adversity is hard, and at this time’s victory, whereas not a factor of magnificence, reveals that this can be a soccer group that may preserve combating when issues aren’t going their means.
“A 12 months in the past, a sport like this, the ups and downs, I do not suppose we might have dealt with it the way in which we might have wanted to have the ability to come out on prime, to only preserve taking part in,” Heupel mentioned. “We’re removed from being a completed product. We’ve acquired an extended methods to go, coaches and gamers alike, to get to the place we’re able to being.
“But the expansion, the maturity and the competitiveness, man it is so completely different than after we first took over. I instructed the blokes within the locker room how proud I used to be of them. This reveals a number of the issues we have been speaking about. It reveals their progress. I’m pleased with them.”